Lately, and by lately I mean tonight, but maybe more than that, maybe all the time, both consciously and subconsciously, I have been thinking about imagination. Nothing as grandiose as to what makes us humans possess imagination and other animals that may not. I say this because if you have ever watched a dog dream then you know we are not alone with processing conscious or imaginative excess.
Imagination. Yes. A few months back I began work on a book. It is the story of an eleven year old boy who survives a lightning strike only to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole. My intention, when the tale finishes telling itself (I’ve lost control of this story after the first three chapters), is to create a psychedelic trip for tweens, if ever there was such a thing. And this is no mean feat, given that I’ve never dropped acid or have partaken of any earthly hallucinogen. Hell, I don’t even drink anymore…
What I do have, however, is a wealth of memories from my meddling in shamanic trance sessions a few years back. I don’t want to get all Jungian on the subject, but I am a firm believer that certain archetypes are indelibly etched on our collective consciousness. As a writer, it is my job to dip into that realm, and in doing so pull forth something recognizable to every reader. If you have not tried lying down, listening to the beat of shamanic drum (either live or recorded…there are some good mp3 downloads out there as well as the quintessential CD by Michael Harner that goes along with his book The Way Of The Shaman), and leaving this reality for the lower, middle or upper worlds I invite you to do so. One bit of advice if you do decide to investigate this practice, it takes time. Don’t be surprised if you nod off and wake up later. It happens to everyone, first…
So, yes. Imagination. That’s where I was. Tonight there’s a question that keeps running through my head: where is the place where we lose contact with the imaginative musings we took for granted as children? A good friend wrote to me about not wanting to be practical anymore, to follow no one’s advice. As children, we did that until a parent or some other adult intervened under the guise of looking out for our safety. How many of us, as adults, have reached to cover the corner of a table while a toddler takes his or her first steps? When we were children trees at night looked like giants. Bedroom closets, while small by daylight, grew cavernous in the dark if the door was left open. Ordinary shapes, by day or by night, took on a whole new meaning; but it is only as adults do we second-guess ourselves. A shadow passing in our childhood periphery, in an otherwise empty room, may be a ghost or any other such non-tangible thing; but in adulthood we chalk it up to blood pressure, fatigue, sleeplessness, etc.
What I want to do is get back to having no filter where imagination is concerned. That doesn’t mean I am about to revert to childhood. But I would prefer to knock down the blocks that keep me from the free association of imagination that came naturally as a child.
The book I began some months back may not get finished if I am unsuccessful in the breakthrough I am looking for. It would be a pity, really. Because in this tale there is a boy who gets to live in a real-time that, until the events that took him from this present reality, he was only able to dream about; but at eleven years old he lives on the cusp of the time when even his peers might chastise him for being too imaginative. When he eventually returns to the present time, that is to say when he escapes the fractured, dream world where he lands, he is still eleven years old; despite a solid seven years having passed since he disappeared. And while my book is far from finished, that is to say that the tale hasn’t finished telling itself through me, I am leaning more toward the main character’s parents being unable to believe that the boy who returns to them is their actual son. Time will tell, but I don’t want this tale to take too long to tell itself to me.
There was an old story by Harlan Ellison, a quite famous one in the sci-fi fantasy circle, entitled “Jefty Is Five”. If you can find it give it a read. It is worth it. Ellison, like his influence Ray Bradbury, never lost touch with that imaginative quality of childhood, that ability to make leaps and associations without fear of being chastised or the dream being crushed under adulthood’s heavy weight.
Someone once asked me: If you had to part with one of the five senses which would it be? I am just thankful that my imagination wasn’t among the choices…
3 thoughts on “Dog Dreams”
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This is interesting. I think of imagination as creating ideas — and the ability to create beyond what is realistic. But I never considered myself imaginative, because I was never able to lose myself in another world (imaginary friends or places). I always knew what was real and what wasn't. I never believed in Santa Claus or fairies or really anything except the things I knew were real. I'm not sure if I would like being the kind of person who is able to lose herself so readily in a rabbit-hole of sorts. I want to instead, become the person who still finds the world we live in a wonder. I want to wake up and find the sun coming in the window magical, and the vastness of the sky a gift. I want to have adventures in the real world – I want to live with delight and whimsy but still know that everything I feel is real, and that that is the thing that is unbelievably wonderful.
This was a lovely bblog post